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Asian shares fall as global growth worries add to regional headwinds

A man looks at stock market monitors inside a bank in Taipei. (Reuters photo)

A man looks at stock market monitors inside a bank in Taipei. (Reuters photo)

Asian shares were set for their worst day in two weeks on Thursday, weighed down by the latest regulatory crackdown in China and global investors worries' about a looming reduction in central bank stimulus, while the dollar held firm.

European shares looked set to follow suit, with FTSE futures off 0.65% and pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures down 0.8%, in early trading ahead of a closely watched announcement from a meeting of the European Central Bank.

Analysts anticipate the ECB will announce a token step towards reducing its emergency economic support.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last down 1.26%, which would be its worst daily performance since Aug. 19, the last time markets decided they were worried about the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering its massive asset purchase programme.

U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were down 0.45%.

"The global story is looking soft and it's being hit by the Delta variant plus concern about potentially the Fed still moving towards a taper. It's an unsettling combination of things that I think is weighing on the market at the moment," said Rob Carnell Asia head of research at ING.

"Until we actually get the taper announcement ... it's going to be that sort of environment where it's glass half full, glass half empty depending on who's reading the tea leaves that day."

Strong U.S. job openings data overnight went some way to turning around the mood after investors had been betting the lower-than-expected payroll reading last week would mean the Federal Reserve would delay trimming its stimulus, sending MSCI's world equity index to a new all time on Tuesday.

But local factors also played a part in Asian shares' declines on Thursday.

Hong Kong was among the biggest fallers shedding 2.02%, dragged down particularly by Chinese tech stocks after Chinese authorities told gaming firms to resolutely curb incorrect tendencies such as focusing 'only on money' and 'only on traffic'.

Updated : 2021-09-18 19:57 GMT+08:00